Solar Panel Roof Tiles – Everything You Need To Know

Your complete guide to solar roof tilesSince Tesla announced their range of solar panel roof tiles and their vision of a fully integrated solar roof in 2016, we are often asked about the pros and cons of this new technology.

We have had a look at many of the major brands and solar panel roof tiles, including those from  Tesla, Monier, and Tractile and have put our findings below. Here’s everything you need to know about solar roof tiles.

What are solar tiles? 

Solar tiles are roof tiles that work as solar panels. They have all the functions of roof tiles like waterproofing your home, while also generating electricity.

Each tile has a photovoltaic cell (PV Cell) embedded in it, and they are wired up through the rooftop to a centralised inverter.

This is generally referred to as BIPV (Building Integrated PV).

What do solar panel roof tiles cost in Australia?

The first thing to understand is that when you install solar roof-tiles, you are in essence installing an entirely new roof – so they only make sense if you are building a new house or completely replacing your existing roof.

As you would expect, solar roof tiles are considerably more expensive than standard roof tiles and much, much more expensive than a standard solar system.

In addition to this, the installation of a solar roof isn’t just a quick panel installation. It involves removing and replacing part of your roof. It’s many times more expensive than a standard solar system.

Roof tile solar is upwards of 5 times the cost of regular solar.

Prices of BIPV are reducing, of course, but standard solar PV Systems have also dropped dramatically. A 4kw integrated system will cover a huge chunk out your roof, whereas you could choose a much simpler and efficient regular solar system for a tiny fraction of the cost. 

Are solar tiles available in Australia yet?

Yes – there are a number of manufacturers offering these products, including Monier, Tractile and others.

At the time of writing, the Tesla roof tiles are not yet available in Australia, although you can pay a deposit to be in line for when they do eventually start to sell in Australia.

What is the advantage of solar roof tiles and why would I buy them?

They look great!

These panels aren’t the most cost-effective option for electricity generation but there’s no doubt that if you can afford them purely for their aesthetic value, one could consider them as an option.

What are the disadvantages of solar roof tiles?

There are major disadvantages to solar roof tiles which means they are not for everyone.

Firstly, as mentioned above, they are very expensive.  And if the aesthetics of your roof are worth a lot to you, then solar roof tiles could be a great option. However, for the rest of us, the extra cost is rarely justified.

The next important point is that the solar roof tiles are, compared to today’s latest solar panels, nowhere near as efficient.  For a standard 10kW solar system, solar roof tiles require around 100 square meters of clear roof space, as compared to around 40 square metres for a standard PV System. In other words, if roof space is at a premium, you are getting less than half the output per square metre.

This means that a solar roof tile solar system will, for most households, be unlikely to be large enough to meet their current and future energy needs.

Another factor to consider is that it would be impractical to add extra capacity to a solar roof tile system, meaning that if your needs change, your solar system can’t.

One other minor point that many people consider is that mounting a standard solar system a few centimetres above your roof provides a degree of insulation (and cooling) by keeping the direct sun off your rooftop.

So should I get solar roof tiles?

Solar roof tiles are a product for a niche market – in particular, those where roof aesthetics are really important, and when the cost isn’t a major factor.

However, if you’re getting solar to generate savings for your electricity bills, or to support your household’s energy needs today and into the future, a solar roof will likely be an expensive choice for you.

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